Our Academic Model
Lab Atlanta offers a learning experience that satisfies the requirements of a 10th grade academic semester via a transformational, transdisciplinary model focused on making learning “whole.” Although we offer syllabi and assessments in six course areas and a school day from 9am to 4 pm Monday through Friday, the likeness to a familiar school structure intentionally ends there.
What is the transdisciplinary Arc?
A model to make learning "whole", and build empathy and understanding for the city and its people.
In addition to the six disciplines which provide the strong curricular foundation of our honors-level academic experience, we have designed the experience along a transdisciplinary arc--a Hero’s Journey--with the challenges of the city of Atlanta as the opportunity and trajectory for individual and collective student growth and development.
The transdisciplinary arc will follow the design cycle, beginning with and continuously grounded in ongoing research (informed by the disciplines studied) to build empathy and understanding for the city and its people. As this understanding grows, students will begin to work with specific users (people--either individuals or groups) and identify their needs. These needs will elicit student interest in humanities and/or STEM-oriented ideas, and pose opportunities for them to solve problems and effect change. Students will conclude their semester by completing a capstone transdisciplinary design challenge. They will demonstrate their mastery of the design process by producing a final project ranging from better articulating a pathway to solve the identified problem to developing a low-resolution prototype or set of prototypes to help solve the need.
In addition to course specific assessments, each Lab Atlanta learner will complete a transdisciplinary design challenge, meant to demonstrate each student’s growth with respect to Lab Atlanta’s mission, overall goals and outcomes, and related to Lab Atlanta’s overarching theme: to enhance each learner’s senses of self, place, and connectedness especially to the city of Atlanta. Transdisciplinary design challenges will likely emerge initially in the context of the Lab Atlanta electives. But each must also employ elements that transcend either the Sociology or Engineering Applications elective courses. Transdisciplinary design challenges will be inquiry based, initiated by the students, and supervised by Lab Atlanta faculty. They can be approached either individually or as small group, collaborative design challenges (pending faculty approval). Since the transdisciplinary design challenges will be student initiated and inquiry based, we cannot know in advance what projects the students will undertake. Formative assessments will recur throughout the design challenge process. These will include student self assessments, peer assessments, and external expert as well as Lab Atlanta faculty assessments of each learner’s progress over the course of the semester.
In addition to specific assessment criteria related to particular assignments, much of the academic work at Lab Atlanta will be assessed by our universal rubric (emerging largely from the benchmarks for the transdisciplinary design challenge), featuring performance indicators in the following domains:
- Inquiry Process